Boasting a deep Native American and Spanish heritage girdled by enchanting natural landscapes, Albuquerque, New Mexico is a unique and colorful destination that offers endless opportunities for fun. Whether you’re traveling solo, with your loved one, or with your family, you’ll adore the rich culture, outstanding cuisine, and wide array of favorite attractions situated on the peaceful and lovely grounds of Duke City.
Among Albuquerque’s selling points that you shouldn’t miss is wine tasting at the Casa Rondeña. Tucked in the ancient cottonwood in the tranquil Village of Los Ranchos, a visit to the winery promises a memorable vineyard experience that will make you feel you’ve been taken out of the city. Here, let’s know more about Casa Rondeña and more reasons why you start planning your wine tasting adventure there today!
History of Casa Rondeña
New Mexico is the United States’ oldest winemaking tradition, tracing its roots back to 1629. It all began when Fray García de Zúñiga, a Franciscan monk, and Antonio de Arteaga, his Capuchin colleague, seeded the first Monica grapevines and established the first vineyards in Rio Grande River Valley in the Senecu mission situated south of Socorro.
Colonists required sacramental wine but the long wait for the already scanty consignments from Spain was what forced them to pursue grape growing. Four years later in 1633, the first wine was produced in what is now known as New Mexico.
What was once a tradition had eventually transformed to be a flourishing industry. Vineyards stippled the riversides from Albuquerque to El Paso. By the late 1880s, New Mexico was already generating nearly a million wine gallons annually, placing it then as the fifth-largest wine-producing state.
Winemaking transcended into the modern day and continued to evolve from its European heritage. With that, it’s no surprise that John Calvin thought of establishing Casa Rondeña in the early 1970s while he was still in southern Spain studying and playing the Flamenco guitar. As he had to thrive on his income as a musician, actualizing the dream of starting the winery seemed to be an infeasible task.
In the 1990s, John Calvin, along with his two young sons Clayton and Ross finally made his first plantings in Los Ranchos. Initially, they produced wine from the grapes they bought from other vineyards found in the state. Soon, they raked several awards, and in 1994, Casa Rondeña was founded. It was then bonded in 1995 and was opened to the public in 1998.
Casa Rondeña Overview
Today, Casa Rondeña is among the best attractions in Albuquerque, offering one of the best wine-tasting experiences in the country’s oldest wine-producing region.
In August 1997, its Tasting Room opened, followed by the completion of the winery building and its remarkable Tricentennial bell tower in 2004. In 2008, new storage and barrel aging facilities were added to fulfill the winery’s production expansion, as well as to hold various events like weddings, parties, and other special activities for its members and guests.
John Calvin moved out from his home inside the property and converted it into the 1629 Club. It offered a new type of membership in Casa Rondeña, which grants members access to the private club, further elevating the experience.
The Tasting Room
Open to the public daily from 12 pm to 7 pm, Casa Rondeña’s Tasting Room allows you to sample and explore their incredible portfolio of award-winning handmade wines. You can simply walk in as no reservations are necessary. Expect to be treated with unsurpassed hospitality, with the Tasting Room’s knowledgeable and passionate staff assisting you on your visit.
Tasting flights are priced at $12 each, which the staff sets depending on the inventory. Some of their best wines that you should try include the Rondeña Sparkling Wine, a full-bodied, dry, and fruity wine with delightful notes of dried fig, pear, and apple, Shining River, the dry, clean, and crisp vintner’s favorite with notes of honeysuckle, passionfruit, and ripe melon, and Voignier, an off-dry, refreshing white wine with lovely notes of pineapple, guava, banana, and melon.
Other wines in their excellent selection include La Copine, a gentle, light, table wine, Cabernet Franc, medium-bodied wine with light notes of tobacco and green pepper, with a dark cherry finish, and 1629, a rich, full-bodied wine with notes of dark berries and plum, which commemorates the first plantings of grapevines in North America.
They also offer new wines from time to time, further expanding their amazing selection that covers a full spectrum of flavor and sweetness. Each offers a distinct taste, so be prepared to satisfy your palate on every wine you try. You can also purchase chocolates, cheese plates, or crackers in the Tasting Room to match the wine that suits your taste.
Exploring Casa Rondeña
The magic at Casa Rondeña never stops at the wine tasting activity at the Tasting Room. Make sure to stroll its grounds and relish the quiet setting and beautiful sceneries surrounding the property. Of course, the winery has its own beautiful space you can explore.
Start with the Great Hall, Casa Rondeña’s original fermenting room where you can see fascinating vaulted ceilings patterned from the Moroccan souk or traditional marketplaces. Outside the Great Hall is the Great Hall Garden, an outdoor area with a patio and lawn nestling between the grapevines and pond.
Meanwhile, the Rotunda and Barrel Rooms is a distinct space that contains oak barrels where the wines deliciously age. Your senses will surely come to life with the pleasant aroma of wine and oak. Next to these rooms is the Founder’s Garden, a Middle Eastern-themed outdoor space where you can unwind.
At the back of the property lies the 1629 Club, the founder’s former private residence offers lounge seating and a dining room for a cozy and elegant stay for its members.
Other activities to enjoy include yoga classes, listening to live music from talented local talented performers, and celebrating significant holidays and seasonal events like the 4th of July and Mother’s Day.
Casa Rondeña is a peaceful refuge in Albuquerque that should add to your bucket list when traveling in the city. A visit here is undoubtedly rewarding, having the opportunity to taste some of the most delectable drinks in what seemed to be an unlikely place for wines. Adding the backdrop of the gorgeous vineyard, stunning buildings, and other beautiful sights, all you’re left to do is breathe and relax with every sip.